OPINION: Waiting for the FOI

Teddy Locsin, Jr.

Posted at Jul 09 2016 12:22 AM

AND finally Duterte said, “I abhor secrecy and instead advocate transparency, in all government contracts, projects and business transactions, from submission of proposals, to negotiation, to perfection and finally to consummation. Do them and we will work together; Do not do them, we will part sooner than later.”

Nicely said.

At this point, he should have announced that he would sign later in the day the executive order implementing full of freedom of information regarding all transactions and expenses of the executive branch—the spending power of government.

It makes no difference that Congress may not pass a general FOI [Freedom of Information] or the Judiciary may cling to its shroud of secrecy with all the morbid word portends of the funeral of judicial credibility. Time and shame will erode their resistance and anyway the light of Duterte’s FOI E.O. [Executive Order] will shine a bright and revealing light on all expenditures of government regardless of the branch because the Executive writes the national budget. The Department of Budget and Management monitors and releases and the Commission on Audit monitors again all sums allocated and spent in any and all branches of government. Nothing financial moves, and therefore nothing at all so much as stirs without the go-signal of the president in his or any other branch of government. We are still waiting for that executive FOI.

What’s delaying it? Even the major overhaul of the Office of the President hit the ground running the day after his inauguration. So the Duterte camp was ready; it anticipated victory and prepared organizationally for it. Are the Cabinet boys afraid that Congress may show up the superficiality of the Executive FOI by passing a more probing measure? I don’t think Duterte himself would mind. Are his boys still trying to find a way around having to show everything they will be up to, leaving their elbows room to be greased? What’s the point of public service if there is no possibility of discreet self-service?

Anyway, it was a great speech—and a touchstone of good government or the tombstone of its promise.